2020: Amidst the Sorrows, God's Faithfulness Abounds
As 2020 began, Prodigal Sons set out, ready to help additional churches pursue their gang neighbors with the love of Christ, and to boost our existing outreach efforts. March hit and all of our bright eyed energy, working towards big goals and plans, came to a halt. With "Safer at Home" orders, all of our regular outreach events stopped. Churches we'd been pursuing were slammed trying to adjust and care for their people. Our best practices, and our 2020 game plan – scrapped. After a few weeks of "Now what?", God gave us an opportunity.
Danny checked in with some of the neighborhood guys and asked if they could use help with groceries during this time. Each responded with a "yes", and food box delivery was born. What started with the men and women Prodigal already had connection to, spread out to a larger, new to us, network of gang neighbors throughout Los Angeles. Texts from guys who'd regularly attended Thursday night basketball for a year – "Could I get a box for my grandma?" – "Could my dad get a box?" – became frequent. Before we knew it, thanks to the generosity of many of you, financial support and food donations poured in. Church members from a handful of our partners joined in for some of the deliveries. To date, 51 different families/individuals have received boxes. These engagements have provided more frequent and deep interactions than any other 'outreach event' in the past, and have spread our connections out to new individuals and new gangs in West LA.
As a ministry that is trusting God for more gang families to know Christ, we are convinced that the work of growing more church families to reach out is far more effective (multiplication) than simply Danny and Brian (addition) reaching out to the homies. With this, we pivoted during the pandemic from swiftly expanding our connections with additional churches, to developing more robust equipping. For members at churches we’re currently connected to, we expect that this equipping will sharpen them for ministry and love towards gang neighbors in their areas. As this program more fully develops over time, we can provide more value to these and future churches and be more effective at equipping others for outreach.
While we are hopeful for the future of God’s work through Prodigal, and testify that he has faithfully used the trials of this pandemic for good, we acknowledge that the sufferings of this year for those we seek to serve have been and continue to be overwhelming. Personally, we know half a dozen families who have been personally affected by COVID-19, and one who lost family members. The effects of the pandemic - health wise, financially, educationally, have deeply hit the communities we’re reaching out to. Aside from the pandemic, this year alone in the city of Los Angeles, over 300 men and women have been murdered, and over 630 in the county. Gang violence is peaking, and the continued shutdowns seem to heap on the pressures that lead to many of the contributors to gang expansion and violence.
As men of faith in a God who is faithful, we celebrate while lamenting. Mourning the loss of so many lives in our cities to gang related causes. Sorrowful over the kids who lost moms and dads, moms and dads who’ve lost sons and daughters. Numerous and untold injustices and hopelessness. We hope, we mourn, and we pray. We pray for God’s continued work. For his good news to reach into the hood through loving churches. We thank you for your consistent support this year - your prayers for us, the ministry, those we seek to serve - your financial gifts to support us, the ongoing work, and the special needs that have arisen - your words of encouragement and action steps of engagement. We thank God for you. As the year closes, please continue to hope with us, to pray with us, to mourn with us, and to look to Christ with us for more of his glory to be seen in 2021.
With You in Christ,
Danny and Brian